There are all sorts of easy ways to be cynical about Brooklyn and the ways that the upwardly mobile dress there, but Jen Mankins, who is the owner of the Bird boutiques and a sort of de facto Brooklyn-style ambassador, is one of the most original and dynamic characters in the New York fashion world. Mankins bought the original Bird in Park Slope from its founders for $80,000 in 2004 and opened its Cobble Hill and Williamsburg outposts in 2006 and 2009.
In honor of the original store's 15th anniversary this week, Mankins invited three designers — Maria Cornejo, Rachel Comey, and Jane Mayle — to collaborate on special mini-collections for the store. The entire thing feels like a tribute to small, independent brands, to women designing for other women, to a kind of ground-up fashion that is pleasantly separate from a corporate mass-market luxury machine that trades in glossy ads and pricey lipsticks.
Mankins, who spent a chunk of years working in the buying offices at Barneys and then at Steven Alan, says her success with Bird probably started with the fact that she understood the customer. She lived three blocks from the Smith Street shop, and says she imagined the Bird woman as the same person she’d see on line in the grocery store or picking up toothbrushes at the Rite Aid down the block.
She cobbled together a signature look that’s relaxed and fashionable and often a little tongue in cheek. It’s fashion that corresponds neatly to what is now understood to be “Brooklyn” — that bougie-boho thing that makes it possible to go up and down subway steps and even ride your bike to work while still looking good. Mankins herself wears bright colors, loud prints — a generally cheerful mash-up that's as exuberant as she is.
A lot of the Bird brands happen to be helmed by female designers: Isabel Marant, Tsumori Chisato, Zero by Maria Cornejo, Rachel Comey, and the now-closed, oft-mourned Mayle. These women make clothes that would suit their lives well, which, it turns out, is the best way. There is no Funny Face–style fantasizing or extrapolating about imaginary ladies doing imaginary things, no abstract muses that need be conjured or invented. Cornejo lives down the street from Bird, and rides her bike along the waterfront on weekend afternoons. Comey lives not far, too, and has two little kids and a walk-up studio.
Bird’s anniversary will be celebrated with tacos, beers, loud music, and probably some dancing. The good news is everyone wearing her designs should be plenty able to eat, drink, and move.BEGIN SLIDESHOW
Most Viewed Stories
Mary-Kate Olsen Strains Every Muscle in Her Face in an Attempt to Smile
The Fashion Executive Who Doesn’t Wear Underwear on Dates
25 Famous Women on Being Alone
22 Intimate Lost Photos of Marilyn Monroe
Prince George Has No Time for Justin Trudeau’s High Fives
How Angelina Jolie Won the First Big Battle in Her Divorce
It’s Time to Get Over Your White Feelings and Start Taking Action for Black Lives
2009 Called — It Wants Its Vogue-Versus-Bloggers Fight Back.
Former Miss Universe Becomes U.S. Citizen So She Can Vote Against Trump
Madame Clairevoyant: Horoscopes for the Week of September 26
From Our Partners
powered by PubExchange
The Cut’s Latest Fashion FeaturesCiara's Wedding Dress Was Too Big for the Chapel
To be fair, it was a 13 foot-long dress.You and Rihanna Will Both Want to Invest in Dior’s New Bag
It's got something for everyone.Polo Shirts Have Turned Their Back on Ryan Lochte
Along with his other major sponsors.Ryan Lochte Will No Longer Be Paid to Wear Tiny Bathing Suits
Speedo remains committed to transparency.Laura Brown Is the New Editor-in-Chief of InStyle
After 11 years at Harper’s Bazaar.Tyra Banks Is Going to Teach a Class on Smizing at Stanford
"If I see somebody not paying attention, I’m gonna call on them."This Floating Pier Is the Most Zen Installation Ever
Walking on water in Italy.Nation Is Appalled by Matt Lauer’s Nude Ankles During Ryan Lochte Interview
What’s the opposite of “Jeah”?8 People at the Life of Pablo Pop-up Explain Why Kanye West Is a God
"I mean, Kanye West is just Kanye West. There's not more or less you can say about Kanye West. He's just Mr. West!"A T-shirt Is Enough
Simplicity, versatility, and cool. What more could you want?
She took a perfect pencil dive off a 30-foot yacht.American Apparel Is Being Sued by Former Workers
As the company considers putting itself up for sale.A Gendered History of the Tailored Suit
From Marlon Brando to Coco Chanel.How Zendaya Developed Such Great Style at the Young Age of 19
The star's best looks from Disney to now.Proof That If You’re Chic Enough, a Little Federal Investigation Doesn’t Matter
Is this the best they could do?5,300-Year-Old Mummified Iceman Probably Would’ve Been a Street-Style Star
He had several different looks and was “pretty picky.”J.Crew Has Identified 226 Shades of Pink
Even more than there are shades of gray.Gigi and Bella Hadid Merch Is Now Somehow a Thing That Is Happening
Today in Hadidiana.Gird Your Loins for the Return of Yeezy to New York Fashion Week
The season approaches.This Indie Brand Had a Great Response to Ivanka Trump
When she bought one of their cuffs, they donated the proceeds to the Clinton campaign.